April 6, 2012
Akshay Kumar, John Abraham, Riteish Deshmukh, Shreyas Talpade, Rishi Kapoor, Randhir Kapoor, Asin, Mithun Chakraborty, Jacqueline Fernandez, Zarine Khan, Boman Irani, Johnny Lever, Malaika Arora Khan, Shazahn Padamsee
I can deal with Salman Khan urinating on a haystack in Anees Bazmee’s Ready. I can even take the farting ape of Bazmee’s No Problem. I can forgive the now predictable scenario that unfolds at the end of pretty much every Priyadarshan comedy, with the film’s entire cast congregating at one place and chasing each other in circles. But nothing, absolutely nothing, is an excuse for The Great Bollywood Rape Joke.It was the last straw for me in Housefull 2. It came in a scene in which Sunny (Akshay Kumar) visits his father in the film. Dad is played by Ranjeet, villain of yesteryears. In an allusion to the numerous rape scenes the actor has shot through his career, the name plate behind him reads, “Dr Ranjeet V. Asna K. Pujari”. Get it? Vasna ke pujari? Devotee of lust? Yawn. That’s supposed to be his name. And below that comes the word “therapist”, except that the letter “e” has got partially unhinged from the board, so that it reads, “the rapist”.
When will Bollywood stop treating rape as a source of amusement? Sickening!It can’t possibly get lower than this, I thought. But I was wrong. Towards the end of the film, when Sunny visits Dad again to introduce him to his bahu (Asin), the old man does not realise that the pretty girl before him is his daughter-in-law. So he leers and approaches her while gradually unbuttoning his clothes and lasciviously chanting the word, “beauty … beauty … beauty,” with every step he takes. Stop! Dad, she’s your bahu, says the son. Creepy Dad halts in his tracks, starts buttoning up again and retraces his steps, while still ogling her and now chanting, “Beti … beti … beti …”
Ugh! Yikes! Ewwww!How Asin – Bollywood newcomer but star of southern Indian cinema – could have subjected herself to such a scene is beyond me. So I’ll say it again: I have no problem with the crocodile in Housefull 2 biting the bottom of Jolly (Riteish Deshmukh). I can close my eyes to the scene in which a python clings to the penis of Jai (Shreyas Talpade). I can even survive all those shots of lecherous Sunny’s tongue marginally lolling out. But I draw the line at rape!
Let me be very clear about this: I actually do enjoy the occasional mindless comedy and I realise that slapstick humour is often politically incorrect by nature. Despite its rampant sexism, I still laughed through No Entry. In spite of its overt homophobia and crudeness, Kya Kool Hai Hum cracked me up. Welcome was silly but hilarious. The Golmaal series maybe juvenile but I actually had fun with Golmaal 2&3. Though most critics in this country ripped Housefull to bits, I didn’t mind it too much. And what the heck, I found DesiBoyz and parts of F.A.L.T.U. funny. But there is a difference between being cheeky and being distasteful, between being politically incorrect and downright insensitive. And I suspect even diehard devotees of brainlessness would agree with me that when a film maker repeats his own successful formula, it can get boring.And so, if in Housefull Sajid Khan gave us two men trying to deceive one father and one brother in collusion with two pretty women, he takes the “2” in Housefull 2 rather literally, giving us four men trying to deceive four fathers in collusion with four pretty women whose primary job is to look smashing in skimpy outfits. If in Housefull we were given the song Papa jag jaayega, here in Housefull 2 we get Papa toh band bajaye and Right now. Most of the dialogues involve rhyming words such as Sunny saying, “Langurs, have my angoors.” No you dirty people, it’s not what you are thinking, he’s actually offering grapes – the fruit – to guests!
The formulaic repetitiveness of the plot and dialogues are quite tragic because on a good day, Akshay, Asin, Riteish and Shreyas can be killer comics, and it was nice to see how John had evolved from being Akshay’s sidekick in Garam Masala to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Akki in Desi Boyz. Besides, there’s some serious … uh … erm … chemistry between Akshay and John here. And the déjà vu notwithstanding, the songs are catchy, visually attractive and well choreographed. Despite everything I’ve said before this, I’ll concede too that there are some genuinely entertaining scenes here and there in the film (especially the ones involving Rishi Kapoor and a wisecrack offered by Johnny Lever about a man, his pregnant mother, his gullible father and their driver). But these scenes are few and far between, there are too many intermittent slow patches and there’s too much that’s a reminder of Housefull in Housefull 2.
But congratulations all the same, Sajid Khan! In Aakhree Pasta (Chunkey Pandey) you have managed to create one of the most irritating characters I’ve seen in a Bollywood comedy. As for you, Shreyas Talpade, having seen you in Nagesh Kukunoor’s splendidly sensitive Iqbal and witnessed your comic abilities in Om Shanti Om, it hurts to watch you in this film!Rating (out of five): **
CBFC Rating: U/A